“I was just lying in my sleeping bag in the doorway of this shop one night, when this bunch of young blokes in suits started throwing bricks at me,” forty year old Maurice Tollard of no fixed abode, Manchester, told the Daily Norks. “When I shouted at them to stop, they just laughed and told me I should be grateful – it was for charity!” Whilst Tollard was fortunate to escape with only minor injuries, other rough sleepers haven’t been so lucky, with a Birmingham man suffering a fractured skull and another in London sustaining serious internal injuries. Witnesses have claimed tat all of the attacks were carried out by well dressed and well spoken young men and women, who always left the scene laughing and joking. The assaults have been linked by the press with a right wing news website’s Christmas Appeal for the homeless which, it is claimed, encourages its readers to violently attack rough sleepers. The site’s owner and editor, however, remains unrepentant over the ‘Throw a brick at the Homeless’ campaign. “Our appeal is entirely in line with our overarching philosophy of helping the poor to help themselves,” explains Julius Herpestan, of the Right On website. “We don’t believe in giving the underclass money – they’ll just squander it on drink and drugs – instead focusing on providing them with the material building blocks needed to change their circumstances.”
In the case of the current seasonal appeal, the site is aiming to help the homeless improve their lives by giving them the means to build their own homes. “Obviously, we aren’t talking about building a mansion, or even a modest modern terraced hovel, just a crude shelter to protect them from the elements,” claims the twenty seven year old Cambridge graduate, who inherited his family’s fortune and is rumoured to be a financial backer of several populist right-wing political movements across Europe. “Just a few bricks for the walls, some polythene or even corrugated iron for the roof, erected on some waste land and hey presto – they have a home and an address, of sorts. No more excuses for sleeping in other people’s doorways or shirking work because of the lack of an address!” The site’s philosophy, he claims, is also behind the whole concept of throwing the building materials at their recipients. “Obviously, the whole ‘Throw a Brick at the Homeless’ thing is just a jokey tagline – we’d in no way encourage violence against down and outs,” Herpestan says. “The fact is that we believe in cutting out the middle man and all the bureaucracy it involves. We think it is far more efficient for our readers to supply these basic building materials directly to individual homeless people, rather than involve the state and all its expensive inefficiency, or do-gooding charities or even ourselves.”
Despite Herpestan’s protestations of innocence, it has been pointed out that Right On has form for so-called Christmas Appeals which seemingly encourage violence against the poor and homeless. “Let’s not forget last year’s campaign, which involved encouraging their readers to ensure that the elderly and poor didn’t freeze to death during the winter months,” says Simon Crackson, Poverty Correspondent for the Sunday Bystander. “It was blamed for a spate of arson attacks on bungalows and several cases of tramps being set on fire.” Indeed, in one infamous incident, a well known Bristol homeless man, known for his extravagant facial hair, had his beard set alight by a gang of bankers as they left a Christmas party at a wine bar he had been begging outside. They later told the police that they were worried that he might freeze to death as overnight temperatures were set to plummet, so had acted to ‘warm him up’. They were subsequently given conditional discharges by the court after magistrates decided that the beggar was partially culpable for his injuries because he had allowed his beard to become so greasy, making it too easily flammable. The bankers did admit that they had been inspired in their actions by the Right On festive ‘Winter Warmer’ campaign.
Once again, Herpestan claims that these incidents were, at worst, simply cases of readers misunderstanding the intent of the appeal. “Of course we don’t condone peoples’ houses or beards being burned down,” he declares. “We were just suggesting that our readers might like to deliver coal or kindling to pensioners, or provide groups of down and outs with oil cans they could safely light fires in so that they could stay warm under their flyovers and railway bridges.” He also believes that his site is being unfairly scape goated for attacks on the poor by left wing media and politicians. “It’s all too easy to try and blame us for the breakdown of normal civilised values which have resulted from the bankrupt social and economic policies they’ve been peddling for decades,” he opines. “Obviously they are going to try and discredit our genuine attempts to demonstrate we can effectively help the deprived without state intervention! They want everyone to believe that the left has a monopoly on compassion!”
Crackson remains unimpressed. “Oh come on!” he declares. “These appeals are just an excuse for rich bastards to abuse and humiliate the poor whilst masquerading as philanthropists! it’s all about them asserting their supposed superiority over the ‘lower classes’. The clear subtext here is that the problems of poor people are self inflicted and that they are too indolent to do anything about it unless given a ‘kick up the arse’ by their betters!” The journalist cites two other Christmas campaigns run by Right On as examples of the site and its followers’ callousness toward the poor. “Remember a couple of years ago when they claimed they were trying to ensure that the homeless were eating healthily by throwing fruit at them?” he says. “Instead of a few oranges being given to beggars, it resulted in city types going around throwing cans of tinned peaches at the poor bastards! It’s a miracle no one died!” Someone did die, he claims, in another Christmas appeal. “That was the one where they claimed that they were fighting obesity among the poor by chasing them through parks and down streets,” Crackson says. “One poor guy suffered a fatal heart attack whilst being pursued across Regent’s Park by a mob of stock brokers waving baseball bats! Were any charges brought? Of course not! It was all put down to ‘youthful hijinks’!” Herpestan has defended the latter incident, however, pointing out that the victim’s demise was actually his own fault for allowing himself to become obese. “His heart attack was the result of his obesity, for which nobody but himself was responsible for,” he argues, “And if he hadn’t been such a fat bastard then they wouldn’t have chased him, would they? So, all his own fault, obviously.”